49ers’ defense loses Nick Bosa, Jimmie Ward vs. Panthers


CHARLOTTE, NC — San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa’s pursuit of a fifth straight game with a sack to start the season ended early Sunday against the Carolina Panthers as he left in the third quarter with a groin injury.

Bosa, who entered Sunday leading the NFL in sacks and quarterback pressures, left the game in the third quarter and the team immediately ruled out a return. He was seen on the sideline getting his left leg stretched out by San Francisco’s medical team just before he was ruled out.

Earlier in the game, the Niners lost another defensive starter to injury in safety Jimmie Ward.

Ward, whom the Niners activated from injured reserve on Saturday after he missed the first four games with a hamstring injury, lasted just one game before departing with a hand injury. Ward left the game after starting at more of a linebacker role than his usual free safety position. The team immediately ruled out Ward’s potential return.

In his ninth season with the 49ers, Ward is a captain for the first time and is the team’s longest-tenured player. During the week, San Francisco had been enthusiastic about adding Ward back to the league’s No. 1 scoring defense.

“The energy that he brings just as a captain, as a leader of our team, just to get that guy back at this point in time out there with the group, I think, for the younger guys, it’s cool to see how veterans work and cool for them to have one of their leaders back out there,” defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans said Thursday. “And everybody feels that energy that Jimmie brings for us.”

Injuries have slowed Ward for most of his career, as he’s missed 35 games with a variety of issues since he entered the league as a first-round pick in 2014.



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